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News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

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News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
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In the late 1980s, a meeting was convened at the BBC studios on Whiteladies Road in Bristol. Its participants – mainly amiable former public schoolboys named Mike – discussed the imminent retirement of a grey-haired freelancer, who had been working with the BBC for almost four decades. “We need to think about who is going to take over from David when this series is finished,” a junior producer, Mike Gunton, remembered his boss saying. David Attenborough was nearing 65 and putting the finishing touches to The Trials of Life, the third of his epic series about the natural world. These programmes had been broadcast around the globe. They had established a new genre, perhaps even a new language, of wildlife films. It was a fine legacy. Now it was time to go.

When Alastair Fothergill became head of the BBC Natural History Unit a few years later, executives were still worrying over the same question. The BBC director-general asked him to find a new David Attenborough. “I remember thinking, that’s not very sensible,” said Fothergill. “He has always been this great oak tree under which it’s been hard for a sapling to grow.” Today, Mike Gunton has ascended the ranks to become creative director of the Natural History Unit. He still attends meetings on Whiteladies Road. But, three decades after the subject was first broached, finding the next David Attenborough is no longer on the agenda. “We still haven’t got an answer and I don’t want one,” Gunton told me.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

When the motorcycle accident dealt my brother’s brain an irreversible blow, he and his wife were living in their newly purchased farmhouse on the fringes of suburban Chicago. Conway* had been waiting to move out of the city’s inner-ring suburbs for years, and each morning on the forested property he woke up exuberant. Shortly after moving in, he built an extraordinary tree house some 60 feet in the air, spanning two trees, with sliding joists under the floor to accommodate sway and a hammock to lie in during sunsets. He loved riding his motorcycle, and before work he’d sometimes take his bike out for a spin on the open roads just a few miles away. His wife, Caroline, loved antiques, and the area was full of shops. They were in their 50s and living in a house they planned to grow old in together. Then, after dinner on a fall day in 2007, Conway hopped on his Harley Softail Classic to go buy ice cream and cigarettes. A drunk driver barreled into him. Conway’s left femur snapped and his skull struck the traffic-warmed asphalt, splattering blood all the way to the road’s shoulder.

Conway’s body was battered, but the real threat, the injury warranting a helicopter ride to the closest hospital with a neurosurgeon on call, was a hemorrhage beneath the subarachnoid membrane, a thin sheath of triple-helixed collagen fibers intertwined with blood vessels that protects the brain’s private chemical harbor of cerebrospinal fluid from the open waters of the body’s blood. The sons of a doctor ourselves, my brother and I had heard stories about neurosurgeons called in at midnight, and those stories didn’t have happy endings.

In the weeks after the accident, I watched Conway wake, recognize familiar faces, and begin to walk. Some signs of progress were cause for celebration; other developments were more worrisome. He’d rarely ever raised his voice at Caroline, but now he called her a “worthless cunt” and a “bitch.” He was lewd to the nurses, exposing himself and laughing. When a speech therapist gently reminded him that she would return for another session later that afternoon, Conway retorted, “No you won’t, because I’ll be fucking you in my van outside!”

Read the rest of this article at: Longreads

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There’s a place in Iceland where you can see the northern lights any time of year, regardless of the weather. You don’t have to ride a snowmobile into the mountains or rent a glass-roofed igloo. You don’t even need a winter jacket.

Leaning back in my recliner, I gaze upward at the ethereal reds, greens, and blues arcing across the sky, wavering like alien signals, an extraterrestrial message that we don’t know how to decode. I’m struck by their closeness. The bands of color appear right above me, like I could reach out and pass my hand through them.

These northern lights are glowing at 1 p.m. on an 8K resolution screen inside a well-heated IMAX planetarium at Perlan, a natural history museum set on a hill above downtown Reykjavik. Every hour on the hour the planetarium plays Áróra, a 22-minute-long documentary with footage of the lights taken from all over Iceland. The screen’s pixel density is so high that it runs up against the limits of what the human eye can perceive. The digital image might be clearer than reality. It’s definitely more convenient. All you need is a $20 ticket.

Places like Perlan — magnets for visitors and secondary representations of the country’s natural charms — are increasingly a necessity for Iceland, which in recent years has become synonymous with the term “overtourism.” Overtourism is what happens to a place when an avalanche of tourists “changes the quality of life for people who actually live there,” says Andrew Sheivachman, an editor at the travel website Skift, whose 2016 report about Iceland established the term. In other words, Sheivachman says, “a place becomes mainstream.” Iceland has about 300,000 residents, but it received more than 2.3 million overnight visitors last year. Tourists have flooded the island, crashing their camper vans in the wilderness, pooping in the streets of Reykjavik, and eroding the scenic canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur, where Justin Bieber shot a music video in 2015, forcing it to close temporarily. No wonder the museum is safer.

Read the rest of this article at: Vox

News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

It’s the morning of September 18, 2019 and members of the European Parliament are gathered in Strasbourg for what promises to be a contentious debate: they will be discussing Brexit. Again. Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier and European Union commission president Jean-Claude Juncker take their places at the front of the chamber. Above them in the far corner, stage right, all 29 Brexit Party MEPs shuffle into their seats. On arrival, party leader Nigel Farage heads over to Barnier and Juncker and shakes hands, grinning widely as though greeting old friends. It will be the last cordial moment between them in the whole day.

Throughout the debate, the Brexit Party MEPs – who make up the joint-biggest single party in the parliament – shout down other MEPs as though hollering from football terraces. The speech that attracts the loudest jeers is from Guy Verhofstadt, the Brexit steering group coordinator. Smirking, Verhofstadt seems to relish this: “It’s fantastic that the Brexit Party and Mr. Farage are making so much noise, because they can’t do it in Westminster.” He then comments on Boris Johnson calling himself the Incredible Hulk – Verhofstadt says he is more like Mrs. Doubtfire.

It fell to the Brexit Party’s Martin Daubney to retaliate. Wearing a slim-fitting, shiny grey chequered suit, he looks more like he’s come from a day at the races than a parliamentary debate. Sticking to cinematic references, Daubney calls Verhofstadt the “Darth Vader” of Europe and likens the Strasbourg parliament to the “Death Star… where democracy goes to die.” Within minutes, Daubney’s speech has been clipped and is being shared widely on social media.

“That was the first time I’ve spoken at the European Parliament – no pressure!” Daubney tells me after the debate in his largely empty office, tucked away in the farthest corner of the building. Daubney, 49, used to edit lads’ mag Loaded. More recently he became a semi-regular face on TV, staunchly backing Brexit. Chatty and down-to-earth, Daubney, from Nottingham, believes he is speaking up for working class Leavers who Labour has forgotten. He constantly posts on social media, and his profile has risen fast in the Brexit Party.

Daubney explains that he’d seen Verhofstadt’s line about Mrs. Doubtfire gaining traction online and decided to ad lib his “Darth Vader” bit at the last moment. He had purpose-built his speech for social media. Daubney frames this as part of a “direct communication” his party has built with its followers. “We are completely circumnavigating the traditional mediastream, who let’s face it, are often hostile to us and don’t like us. And more to the point, our voters don’t watch them,” he says.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 10.23.19 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Laugh at Neil Young first and get it out of the way. With a new Crazy Horse album, a new book, and his very own high-resolution streaming platform, the 73-year-old rock legend has set himself the modest goals of reuniting his beloved band, reinventing the wheel, and rescuing music for all humanity. That’s what rock legends are for, right?

Young’s third book in seven years, To Feel the Music: A Songwriter’s Mission to Save High-Quality Audio, is part manifesto and part how-not-to manual. Cowritten with tech collaborator Phil Baker, it details the pair’s attempt to market Pono, the short-lived, high-resolution, stand-alone audio player launched in 2015 at the same moment that low-resolution streaming services like Spotify virtually killed downloads. And it follows the story through Xstream—the high-resolution streaming backend to the Neil Young Archives, ingeniously designed to automatically adjust to a user’s available bandwidth—and Baker and Young’s struggles to license the tech.

“The world is turnin’, I hope it don’t turn away,” Young sang on the title track to 1974’s On the Beach. Some have ridiculed the Canadian songwriter, arguing that Pono’s better-than-CD resolution was inaudible to the human ear (let alone an old rocker’s ear), or that sound quality is something only old people care about, anyway. But the world has perhaps finally started to turn with him.

Consider: A month before To Feel the Music’s September publication, Apple announced it was expanding its high-resolution music offering. (As some have pointed out, though, “Apple Digital Masters” AAC files are not the same as actual hi-res, defined as anything better than a CD’s quality of 44.1-kHz/16-bit audio.) And, a week after the book hit stores, Amazon announced its own impending entrance into the high-resolution streaming market, likewise with its own definition of the term. With the falling costs of storage and bandwidth, a widespread shift to high-resolution is perhaps inevitable, even if few besides Neil Young seem to be advocating for it (and Spotify continues to dismiss it). Young doesn’t want high-quality audio to be a luxury, but the default, at no extra cost. Amazon’s announcement took Young’s dream one large step closer to reality.

“The world is gonna get it in a big way, and it’s all gonna be there,” Young told me a few days before Amazon’s announcement, sounding quietly triumphant after more than a half decade of battle in the hi-res trenches. “Everything from the record companies will get to be heard through streaming in a very big way, and I think it’s gonna change Earth.”

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

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